Browning Hi Power

Observant readers may have noticed that in some of the posts on holsters over the last few years I have been using a Browning Hi-Power to illustrate how they work. I try not to do weapons posts too often as I don’t have an unlimited supply of different deactivated guns and I want to spread them out a bit, that being said it is a long time since we last looked at a firearm on this blog and it seemed about time we looked at the Hi Power.

The Hi Power was developed in the interwar period by FN of Belgium to meet a French Army requirement. John Moses Browning started work on the pistol’s development but died before it reached its final iteration. The design was however developed and was ultimately ready for service by 1935. The French chose a different model, but it was adopted by the Belgians and was one of the most modern hand guns in service at the start of World War Two.

When Germany invaded Belgium in 1940, the designers at FN fled to England with the designs of the hi Power and after much tortuous negotiation it was agreed that a production facility would be set up in Canada by the Inglis company. Manufacture was started in 1944 and the Canadian produced for themselves, the British and received large contracts for Nationalist Chinese Forces. It is one of these Chinese contract guns we are looking at tonight:imageimageThe Hi Power is a 9mm automatic that can hold 13 rounds in its double stack magazine. The magazine is released by a button on the grip, a spring pushing the magazine down and out ready for reloading:imageThis pistol was designed as a military handgun from the start and so features a prominent lanyard loop:imageAs a Chinese contract Hi Power there are a number of distinctive features to this weapon. Firstly the rear sight is an adjustable tangent sight out to 500 yards (!):imageQuite how it was expected to hit anything at this range with a 9mm round is beyond me, but a slot was fitted to the rear to allow a shoulder stock to be fitted:imageThis was a popular feature for the Chinese who had first started using shoulder stocked pistols during the Warlord era when broom-handled Mausers were imported into the country in huge quantities with shoulder stocks to circumvent international embargos on long arms. By the Second World War most other nations had decided shoulder stocks and long range adjustable sights on a pistol were a waste of time, however they remained the preferred choice of the Chinese.

The pistol is marked along the sides of the slide, with the name of the manufacturer and Chinese characters indicating that it is the property of the Chinese Nationalist Army:imageThe opposite side of the pistol has the serial number on both the slide and the barrel:imageThe CH indicates that this pistol was produced for China and it was manufactured in August 1945. Having acquired this pistol several years ago, this example still strips down into its component parts, although the deactivation process is very obvious with the large hole cut in the breach!imageDespite being made for a Chinese contract, I doubt this pistol ever made it to China. The contract was cancelled before it was delivered (mainly because the Chinese nationalists seemed to be more interested in killing Chinese communists rather than the Japanese) and the stock of pistols was absorbed into the Canadian Army’s inventory. This example has never been upgraded or modified post war and so today is a rare piece.

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